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To a person not familiar with the Kentucky Workers’ Compensation system, it can seem like a confusing maze of insurance rules and regulations. Part of the reason for this is that it’s in your employer’s workers’ compensation carrier’s best interest to reduce the amount of money spent on a claim. If you choose to face the system alone, you may not get the full amount of benefits you deserve.
What Workers’ Compensation Benefits Am I Entitled to After an Injury at Work?
There are three types of benefits in a workers’ compensation claim – income, medical, and vocational rehabilitation. Most injured workers who qualify for workers’ compensation coverage use income and medical benefits.
- Income Benefits There are two types of income benefits, TTD (temporary total disability)and PPD (permanent partial disability). Both benefits are based on 2/3 of your gross average weekly wage for the year prior to the accident.
- TTD is paid if you are taken off of all work by the doctor to recover from any injuries sustained as a result of the accident.
- PPD and PTD (permanent total disability) are paid when a person sustains any permanent partial or permanent total disability. Permanent partial disability can occur when a person’s injuries are assigned an impairment rating by a physician. In the case of permanent total disability, an impairment rating and restrictions are imposed, which prevent someone from returning to all work activities.
- Medical Benefits The workers’ compensation insurance company is responsible for the lifetime payment of all reasonable and necessary medical treatment for recovery from the work injuries.
- Vocational Rehabilitation Benefits If your injuries prevent you from returning to your usual occupation for which you have training and experience, you may be awarded retraining for work you’re able to perform.
What to Consider Before Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim
There are many factors to consider when determining if you have a claim.
Where Did Your Accident Happen?
Most accidents and injuries occur on the employer’s premises, but a valid accident can also occur off of the premises. For example, a work-related vehicle accident may qualify you for workers’ compensation benefits.
What Type of Injury Did You Sustain?
A work injury can be more than just a broken bone, torn ligament, sprain, back pain, or neck pain. Other injuries that may qualify you for workers’ compensation benefits include:
- trauma caused by daily use of vibrating tools on an assembly line
- repetitive motion throughout the course of work shifts
- aggravation of arthritis pain
- illness or injury caused by exposure to hazardous work environments
How did your accident occur? Work accidents can sometimes be caused by the negligence of a third party, such as an employee of another company or manufacturer of defective equipment. A separate lawsuit can be filed against the negligent party (but not co-workers) to obtain damages in addition to workers’ compensation benefits.
What Is Retaliatory Discharge?
Retaliatory discharge means an employer cannot fire, harassed, coerced or discriminated against an employee for filing a claim. This statute is designed to protect an injured worker’s job from the time of the accident through the time they are recovered from their injuries and return to work.
Normally, an employer can discharge an at-will employee, or an employee not working under a contract, for good cause, for no cause at all, or for a cause that is “morally indefensible.” It would seem as though an at-will employee can be fired at any time for any reason. However, there are certain restrictions on what is called the “at-will doctrine” to provide workers some protection from potential employer abuses. To prove that retaliatory discharge has occurred in a workers’ compensation claim there are four criteria which must be met.
- The worker must show they were pursuing a workers’ compensation claim
- Proof the employer knew the injured worker was pursuing a workers compensation claim
- The injured worker has to show that the employer either fired, harassed, coerced or discriminated against them in their employment
- A causal connection between pursuing the workers’ compensation claim and the adverse employment action must be proved. Thus, a person cannot allege retaliatory discharge just because they have been fired
It should be noted too that even though a person may be injured on the job and is protected from retaliatory discharge, they must still abide by the employer’s rules and regulations governing employment with the company. There are a number of considerations to be undertaken after being injured on the job.
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If you need help with your worker’s compensation case in Kentucky, or you have questions about your benefits call our team today. At Sam Aguiar Injury Lawyers, our Louisville workers’ compensation lawyers know the law, and we’re here to assist you through every step of the claims process in Kentucky.
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